Watch your majorities

It’s Election Day, and while we wait to discover whether the Board of Elections has finally learned how to count, here’s a little language point about the word majority.

A writer turned in an article with a reference to “the majority of land.” It seems more fitting to limit majority to association with count nouns, such as voters or votes. But land is a mass noun, and most of or the bulk of would go better with it.

While we’re at it, it would be good to remember in going over election copy that margin is the difference between the winner and loser. “A margin of 52 percent to 48 percent” is wrong; in such an outcome, “a margin of four percentage points” would be correct.

And humble thanks: Johnson, the language blog of The Economist, has taken favorable notice of my annual campaign against holiday cliches. Most kind.


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